A recent graduate of the National Center for the Distinguished in Syria, a well-known school for high-achieving students, Salman Aji studied a variety of subjects – math, physics, biology, chemistry, applied technology, English, French, Arabic, philosophy, geography , history, religion and national studies. He also practiced the arts, music and sports.
“However, I liked math, physics and languages the most,” he says. It is clear that mathematics is his passion: he has participated in the International Mathematical Modeling Olympiad and the Mathematical Modeling Team Tournament. He was also part of his school’s programming and AI clubs through which he honed his skills to participate in the Kolmogorov Reading Conference for scientific papers. “I wrote a research paper titled Detection and Classification of Brain Tumors in MRIs Using CNN,” he says. I’m a language nerd. I love learning languages so I can access more media like soap operas, movies and music!
A lover of languages, he is fluent in Arabic and English and is currently studying French and Spanish. “I also write code using the Python and C++ languages,” Salman explains.
Excerpts from an interview:
What led you to develop this passion for languages?
At first, I was not very good at languages. Honestly, I hated English. But then my cousin recommended this beautiful song (Photography by Ed Sheeran). We listened to the song together and then she translated each word to me. After that, I took a lot of songs from her and started looking for new words on my own. I used to memorize the lyrics to sing along with the song so I could work on my pronunciation and rhythm. Things went well pretty quickly and I started learning French that way. But this time, the translation would not be in Arabic, but rather in English. Spanish is my new language and I will work on it as I worked on French and English.
How do you think language learning will help you?
Language is more than a means of communicating with others. Learning a language improves the capacity of your mind. Research has proven that the brains of monolinguals differ from those of multilinguals. The more languages you speak, the better your attention and task-switching skills. Learning languages would give you a lot of opportunities. You can work as a translator, access more courses and websites on the internet, and of course experience a whole new culture with all its traditions, habits, and publications.
Tell us about some of the most fulfilling times when a foreign language you learned helped you connect better with people.
English has helped me in all the international competitions I have participated in. Spanish has helped me meet new friends online. I found a group where people want to practice Spanish, so I talked to some of them and it was fun! French introduced me to French songs that are more than incredible because of their authenticity and expressiveness.
Tell us about your volunteer/community initiatives.
While in 10th grade, I volunteered with the Mosaic Association for Human Relief and Development. Activities ranged from teaching children reassigned due to the war to distributing clothing and food to those in need. This participation was inspired by my experience helping my sick grandmother when I was in 9th grade.
What subjects do you plan to take for your higher education?
Since I’m majoring in engineering in college, I would take math and physics for grad school.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
The biggest achievement was to perfectly balance my time during the baccalaureate. I was able to balance my time between extracurricular activities (got 3 honorable mentions in competitions) and managed to maintain first place in my class.
What is your dream career?
I hope I can be a programmer or an AI expert in a company like Meta and work more on VR. In order to fulfill this wish, I am working hard on my applications to American universities. I learn more about programming languages and specialization in AI. My dream is to study a double major in engineering – mechatronics and AI.
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